12 tips for writing your teacher training personal statement
Whether you’re applying for university led or school led teacher training, you’ll need to complete a personal statement. It’s a crucial part of the application process and your first chance to stand out from the crowd.
Use this opportunity to form a convincing statement outlining your potential to become a successful teacher. Below we outline our top tips for doing so.
1. Include genuine and realistic reasons for wanting to teach
It goes without saying that in a personal statement you’ll need to outline your reasons for wanting to teach, but it’s important that these reasons are compelling. Applicants regularly reel out clichés, for example "I want to give back to society" or "I want to help children." These may be true but what is it exactly you want to give back to society and how does teaching help children?
The reasons you give need to be developed and realistic. Teaching a few kids a bit of algebra isn’t going to solve the world’s problems but it might make a difference to individual lives, how so? And don’t forget teaching has a lot to offer you too – show your understanding of that fact.
2. Demonstrate your understanding of the challenges and rewards involved
As we’ve already said, teaching isn’t quite the rosy career many think it might be. It’s a seriously challenging profession; make sure you demonstrate your understanding of how challenging it can be.
As is often the case with challenging careers teaching can also be an extremely rewarding experience, so don’t forget to include the positives.
3. How did your experience in schools help you understand the role of a teacher?
These days you’re not going to be admitted to a teacher training programme without some relevant experience, the details of which you should include in your personal statement. Don’t simply recall your experience as a teaching assistant (or whatever it was you did); relay what the experience did for you and how it helped you understand the role of a teacher.
4. If you’ve got experience of working with children in other capacities include the details
Perhaps you spent a summer as a mentor at a Camp America or ran a local youth sports team; it’s all relevant so get it down on your personal statement. Try to state how the experience will help your career in teaching. If nothing else, working with children will have developed your rapport with them.
5. Draw on other professional experiences and say how they’re relevant
Teaching isn’t all about conveying information there’s a whole host of other skills coming into play here. You might have experience of managing people, working within a team, communicating across departments. This is all relevant, so include it – but don’t forget to say how these skills will help you succeed as a teacher.
6. Don’t forget about your subject
Make sure you tailor your application according to the subject you hope to teach, particularly relevant to those applying for secondary school training posts. What makes you an expert in the field, what are the challenges facing teachers of your subject, and why do you want to teach it?
7. If applying from outside the UK why do you want to train here?
This could simply be a personal reason or otherwise; admissions tutors want to know that you’re serious about training in the UK.
8. Don’t waffle
Space is limited to 4,000 characters across 47 lines – make sure every sentence counts.
9. Give yourself plenty of time
Do not leave the personal statement until the day before the deadline. You’ll need time to proof and rewrite it. All this will serve to improve the finished article.
10. Don’t keep it to yourself
Get some feedback! Try to gain feedback from both a teacher you know, as well as a university tutor – they’re bound to have some unique insight.
11. Bear in mind who you’re writing it for
Are you applying for school-based or university-based training? This should have some impact on your personal statement as a university’s idea of a good personal statement may well differ from that of a school. Perhaps this will influence whose feedback you’ll listen to more closely for tip 10.
12. Get the basics right
Don’t do all the hard work and then count yourself out of a spot due to a totally avoidable error. Consult the DfE’s full guide to applying to ensure you’ve done everything correctly.